Ideal Cholesterol 199?

Alright, I’m convinced. This nation has gone loony-tunes! First, New Jersey went off the deep end with mandatory flu injections, and now, a new government report insists that a total cholesterol level of 199 is ideal. What! Mike Stobbe of Associated Press reports:
Results from a national blood test survey found the average total cholesterol level was 199. Doctors like patients to have total cholesterol readings of 200 or lower…

…The survey collects data in two-year intervals. The new results are based on a national sample of about 4,500 people 20 and older from 2005-06. The new 199 level compares with 204 in 1999-2000…

…Researchers also found that the percentage of adults with high cholesterol, of 240 or higher, dropped to 16 percent, down from 20 percent in the early 1990s.
The report cites the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs as the main reason for the reduction. Yeah—because that’s a good! In case you forgot, Dr. Fuhrman is no fan of using medicine to lower cholesterol. Take statins for example:
When resorting to medical intervention, rather than dietary modifications, other problems arise, reducing the potential reduction in mortality possible, as these individuals are at risk of serious side effects from the medication. The known side effects for various statins (the most popular and effective medications to lower cholesterol) include hepatitis, jaundice, other liver problems, gastrointestinal upsets, muscle problems and a variety of blood complications such as reduced platelet levels and anemia.
But what about this “ideal” cholesterol level, is a score of 199 really healthy? Okay, you decide. In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman discusses the cholesterol levels of populations consuming a plant-based diet. Here’s an excerpt:
A vegetable, fruit, nut, and bean-based diet has been shown to be the most effective cholesterol-lowering dietary approach in medical history. This newsworthy data with the potential to save millions of lives has been ignored by the mass media. With this dietary approach, most patients drop their total cholesterol below 150 and LDL below 100, without the need for medications. In areas of the world where people eat a diet of unrefined plant foods, people have total cholesterol levels below 150, and there is zero incidence of heart disease in the population.1
I guess if you’re consuming the standard American diet 199 is healthy—relatively speaking—it’s probably a miracle you’re surviving at all. Okay, let’s cut to the case. Here are the total cholesterols levels of people following Dr. Fuhrman’s nutrient-dense diet. Look:
These are numbers worth bragging about! Dr. Fuhrman will tell you himself, flirting with a total cholesterol number around 200 is by no means ideal. In fact, Dr. Fuhrman explains the lower your cholesterol, the better! From Can Cholesterol Be Too Low:
Typically, those individuals promoting the myth that low cholesterol levels are dangerous and the topsy-turvey "science" that saturated fat and high cholesterol are not bad, but good, are those individuals and health advisors advocating diets high in animal products, such as the Atkins devotees. Unfortunately, this advice is not merely incorrect; it is dead wrong for hundreds of individuals who heed such dangerous advice and die of heart attacks every day.

When it comes to coronary artery disease, there may be no such thing as lowering total blood cholesterol levels too far. Another recent study, published in the journal Circulation, found that the arteries in male patients with a total cholesterol level as low as 155 mg/dl benefited significantly from cholesterol-lowering medication as well.1 Both regression of atherosclerosis and a dramatic reduction in heart attacks were seen in the group treated.

While some research in the past has raised questions about the safety of very low cholesterol levels, no danger has been proven in larger, more dependable investigations.
So, in the event that someone—so overjoyed by their 199 score—decides to streak gleefully naked down your street. Politely hand them a towel and a copy of Eat to Live.
1. Breslow JL. Cardiovascular disease myths and facts. Cleve Clin J Med 1998:65(6):286-287. Campbell TC, Parpia B, Chen J. et al. Diet, lifestyle and the etiology of coronary artery disease: the Cornell China Study. Am J Cardiol 1998; 8210B):18T-21T.
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Comments (3) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
M.L. Esfeller - January 5, 2008 1:31 AM

How does one lower triglycerides?

Jim - January 25, 2008 3:29 PM

I agree with everthing in this letter as long as the person on the diet isn't insulin resistant. Lab studies have shown that elevated insulin levels cause inflamation of the arteries, which then causes plaque to form. That is why some people with a history of low cholesteral still die from a heart attacks/strokes. And then there are people with high cholesteral that never suffer any heart disease. It's the same reason why no studies have shown any reduction in heart attacks and strokes between people that took their cholesteral meds and people that didn't. The reason is you're treating the symptom (cholesteral) and not the cause (insulin resistance). If food was the only thing causing this cardiovascular delima then 99% of everyone over the age of 3 would have high cholesteral. The reason most people under the age of 18 have cholesteral levels below 180 is because they also have low levels of insulin. As you bombard your body for 20+ years with excess carbohydrates your cells become insulin resistant. Your pancreas then produces more insulin to counteract the insulin resistance and that's the beginning of the Metabolic Syndrome. Then the first thing your doctor tells you is to quit eating meat and fat (increase carbs) which require even more insulin. This accelerates the deginerative disease of Insulin Resistance to the point of no return and that's when you're doctor puts you on medication. The chemicals in your blood stream further increase your insulin resistance to the point you become Type 2 diabetic. Then your on insulin for the rest of your life. It can all be prevented by eliminating starchy-high-glycemic carbohydrates (bread, potatoes, corn, etc...) from the diet. The idea of eating nothing but vegitables is totally ludicrus. The only reason that is even possible today is because all table salt is fortified with iodine. Without iodine your thyroid gland doesn't excrete critcal hormones that control your metabolism. What was that???? Let me guess, your doctor also told you to eliminate salt from your diet. Unless you eat seafood on a regular basis you need table salt. So the first time a doctor tells you to quit eating meat, fat, and salt to cure your metabolic and cardivascular problems just get up and walk out.

Gerry Pugliese - January 25, 2008 3:53 PM

Hey Jim-

You're clearly an Atkins shill, since you've been blowing up the comments of the anti-Atkins posts on this blog. I'll ask you, what I ask all the other cultists out there. Where's the proof, where's the science? The bulk of the scientific evidence refutes low-carb diets down to the letter.


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